You see those forearms and powerful hands in that picture? They have wielded cast iron pans, switches, and have snatched a head of my hair with equal force and accuracy. Today would be my grandma’s 90th birthday. I miss her dearly. My grandma was the only person I’ve ever verbally acknowledged as “Ma” she raised me. She was a woman of steel, with old school values that while I was growing up I couldn’t appreciate and thought were prudish and restrictive. My grandma was not the kind of person that one would call “warm” or doting, she had a steel resolve, she worked tirelessly. I can remember nights seeing her come home after cleaning the houses of Jewish people. She did what she had to do to be sufficient. She was as hard on me as if she was the one who had bore me. Our relationship was more than I can put into words. She made me polish silver, she taught me how to make apple pies, she taught me how to do nurse corners on the bed, she made me go to school dressed as a “music teacher” for career day when I wanted to be a gum shoe (neither can be easily depicted in costume). She taught me how to make a mean bowl of Cream of Wheat and how to fit more than three pancakes in the pan at once. She taught me how to work with my hands. I often look at my hands, and see hers. They’re not soft and dainty, they’re rough with memories of callouses and wrinkles that gather around too large knuckles, but they remind me so much of grandma. I was laughing the other day with my coworkers as I shared memories of how my grandma would make us sharpen our pencils with knives (good in a pinch, but only if you want a square lead). She had a knack for making due with whatever she found around the house…see below illustration
When my grandma passed away. I was by her bedside and as soon as she left this earth i left the hospital and drove 4 hours to get back home. I had made that trip twice in less than 24 hours. On My first trip we thought she’d had a turn for the better but within hours of me making it back to northern virginia from the hampton roads area, the news was dire. The drive was eerie because I felt in my heart that my grandma was going to be leaving soon. Those hours were very lonely, my son was asleep in the backseat, I actually saw a pack of cougars on the side of the road. I couldn’t process that even as my eyes told me what I was seeing my mind wouldn’t believe. When I got back to my grandmas bedside I was able to be alone with her. I held her hand. I told her things. i told her everything that i’d done that she wouldn’t be proud of. i didn’t tell her about any accomplishments. I told her how much i had messed up my life, and strayed away from the person she had raised me to be. I needed to let her know. I whispered things directly into her ear so that she would know that I loved her and all that she had taught me. I honestly can’t wait to see her again. It’s an assured knowledge that I have deep inside that I will see her soon and for me, that day couldn’t come soon enough. Miss you Ma.